It was the
eminent church historian, Jaraslav Pelikan of Yale University,
who first gained my attention about twenty-five years ago. His
teaching about the treachery involved in the message of Unity
was sweeping the mainline churches at that time.
He declared that all the attempts at unity were being based
on minimum theses, but that unity to be true unity must be
based on maximum truth. In other words, it's impossible to
have unity at zero. That's not unity. That's forsaking all
truth for the sake of a larger church group. It's now known as
being multi-cultural, not truth seeking. It became a
sociological phenomenon, not a spiritually endowed movement.
Jesus talked about unity at the maximum in John 17. Unity
begins with a total separation from the world. It's not for
largeness. In fact, the call to unity can birth a reduction in
size. Verse 14 exclaims vividly that obedience to the Word,
which's commanded by God, has a reducing effect. The Word of
God infiltrates our lifestyle so much until the world neither
understands us nor wants us.
The question that keeps appearing in my mind is: Has the
world so infiltrated the church that it dictates the
atmosphere and attitudes of the church so effectively that
what unity we have is at the minimum, rather than Jesusí
Verse 17 delineates the journey to unity. Only a
single-mindedness seeking for the holiness of God to become
our holiness will lead us to unity. Spiritual unity must begin
with the personal compliance and surrender to the will of God.
The greatest mystery is that Jesus walked this road of
abandonment and compliance first. He declares that His driving
force was separation and sanctification. The world had to be
antagonistic and rougher on His purity and poise than we'll
ever experience. The mystery revealed in verse 19 is
overwhelming. He knew that only by separation and single
God-mindedness could He rest in the Godhead. ĎThat they may be
one (singularly and plural) as you, father, are in me, and I
in you.í That's the portrayal of the Godhead. The thirst for
sanctity will produce a unity in us and among us that's
realized in the Godhead.
Jesus raised the standard for unity to maximum by this
statement: "That they also may be one in us." There's nothing
cheap nor minimum in the understanding Jesus had of Unity.
This phrase alone eradicates all attempts with minimum
agreements to facilitate unity. Jesus really nailed shut the
meaning of Unity in verse 22 by stating that the glory of God
is the overarching achiever of Unity. Man can't initiate or
derive unity. The glory of God initiates and encourages unity
with Jesusí exclaiming, "That they may be one just as we are
one." That delicious unity enhances our obligation to the
world and toward God.
The lack of unity is evident by the churchís effect upon
the world. This could very well be the cause of degenerative
attempts at getting people redeemed. We haven't fulfilled
Christís invitation to glory and unity.
Let me try to illustrate the derivation of unity from God.
Suppose in a large room you had 100 pianos that needed to be
tuned. How can that be accomplished? We could try to tune one
with a tuning fork. However, if we then tuned the other 99 to
that piano we'd be far from the pitch of the tuning fork by
the time we reached the last piano. If you want to tune 100
pianos, you tune them all with only one standard pitch
produced from the same tuning fork. God provides the pitch
that we must be tuned to.
To me, it's gratifying to know that you donít derive unity
from me or from each other. You get all your tuning toward
unity from Jesus. If I'm living the Christ-life of holiness at
maximum truth and glory, and you're doing the same, we have
unity. You donít want to be tuned to some other believer - you
want to be tuned to God. Then unity inhabits the church.
Unity always tunes our lives to Christ likeness and
Holiness when we absorb the Word of God in maximum fashion.
When we keep the mission in its unity the world will then have
a better chance believing. Unity's not to make us feel good,
but to give the Light to an unredeemed world.
Let's hunger and thirst for Christ likeness that will
produce unity. To be sure, it wonít be the anemic wishy-washy
brand that grows out of the worldís need for liberalism and
tolerance. Our culture will more and more resent and be
hostile toward Christ, until we find Godís unity at work
through Truth, Glory and